Montana is known as the “Last Best State” do to it’s wide open spaces, natural beauty, and relatively low population. It is home to a number of state and national parks, including Glacier National Park, the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, and Yellowstone National Park, creating a thriving tourism market. The state itself is the fourth largest in the union with the 44th largest population, leaving populated areas well spread out. There is a fair amount of competition for positions in firefighting, and those who obtain the job may have to travel significant distances to answer a call. Firefighters in this state may find themselves responding to wildfires as well as residential or commercial building fires. With the increased competition, many people wonder how to become a firefighter in Montana.
You will need to meet the following criteria to become a firefighter in Montana:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a high school diploma or GED
- Pass a physical examination
- Have or be eligible for a Montana driver’s license
- Be fingerprinted and disclose any criminal record
- Not have been convicted of a crime that could have result in time in a federal or state penitentiary
Once you have met the above criteria, you will need to successfully complete the Montana Firefighter’s Testing Consortium (MFFTC).
The testing program consists of some of the following areas:
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- Written test to determine situational judgement, reading comprehension, ability to learn, logical and mathematical reasoning, and the ability to apply information
- Pass the CPAT Which includes the following items:
- Stair Climb
- Hose Drag
- Equipment Carry
- Forcible Entry
- Ladder Raise
- Ceiling Breach and Pull
The test is held once a year in June, and you are not required to undergo a training or degree program to participate. Getting a Fire Fighter 1 Professional Certification from a training program or university will strengthen your application to private and public firefighting employers, as will current EMT training and certification. Going on to get your Fire Fighter 2 Professional Certification, an associate’s or bachelor’s degree related to Fire Science, or a Paramedic’s certification will all strengthen your application as well and make it easier to find employment in the field. A number of Montana schools and academies offer training in these areas. Outside of the technical requirements, you should also make sure you are a person of good moral standards that meets the minimum personality traits to become a firefighter.
Volunteer firefighting in Montana is not only a great way to give back to the community, it can also be a huge boost to your career. It will give you valuable experience as well as introducing you to some of the people who may hire you in the future. Almost 80% of the firefighters hired in Montana started in a volunteer capacity and advanced through the experience and networking opportunities such a position brought them.
To become a volunteer firefighter in Montana you will need to meet the following criteria:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be physically examined by a doctor
- Meet residency requirements of the specific organization
Volunteer work is an excellent place to get your start for a career in firefighting in Montana. The on the job training that you receive will be more valuable than any classroom lesson and will introduce you to the people you need to know to get started in your career as a firefighter.